That’s because a source close to GT has told us “the deal with Moss Adams is dead.”
As for the why, our source told us, “The feedback from the Moss Adams board was that the MA partnership would not adequately support the merger.” Whether or not that’s true doesn’t take away from the fact that MA squeezed by GT in the GC Coolest Accounting Firm bracket and, thus, no MA partner worth their salt would want to join forces with GT and have to decipher hand-written notes from Stephen Chipman.
Despite this setback, that doesn’t mean GT isn’t on the prowl but we’ve got no idea who they might have their eye on, so we’d invite you to speculate on who that might be and get in touch if you know anything.
After yesterday’s news that LECG that was more or less pulling the plug, Grant Thornton finally put out a press release that they were acquiring a “significant portion” of the company’s business.
GT is taking on 270 employees in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Portland across all its service groups. Naturally, Stephen Chipman is thrilled to share this dynamic news, “We are pleased to welcome these outstanding individuals to Grant Thornton LLP,” SC said, “I am confident that they will fit in perfectly with our people — intellectually curious, talented individuals who want to make a difference with their clients, in their workplace and in their communities.”
Which was a perfect segue into this:
“As I have stated before, our goal is to be the leading audit, tax and advisory firm serving dynamic organizations in our chosen markets,” continued Chipman. “Dynamic companies are companies that are ambitious and growing, expanding internationally. They are dealing with critical events or transactions and are in need of our value-added, integrated service solutions. We will continue to explore additional strategic mergers and acquisitions as our balance sheet is healthy [Ed. note: care to share?] and we are in a position to attract similar talent.”
In other words, GT is still on the prowl for more people to join their party. Any interested parties need to come with dynamism in boatloads.
Remember those GT/Moss Adams rumors from back in January? At the time, our post sent both firms calling for plumbers but we still mangaged to get a copy of an email from Moss Adams CEO Rick Anderson that denied the rumor in an email to the firm’s partners. Everything has been quiet since then mostly because…well, it’s busy season. Granted, firm leaders like Stephen Chipman and Rick Anderson aren’t thigh-deep in spreadsheets like most of you so the fact it’s entirely plausible that while you’re all distracted, TPTB have been courting each other.
We received this brief note from a tipster yesterday:
Rumor is [Grant Thornton] [is] about to announce big west coast deal.
Our source originally speculated that a tax/valuation/consulting boutique was the target because of an old Andersen connection but then told us that the latest word from the west coast is that Moss Adams is back in the picture. In our original post, we went over the reasons for and against the GranMoss merger and frankly it still could go either way (we’re leaning “no” at this point). That said, Grant Thornton has been on a buying spree, most recently picking up some attest services from the LECG Corp. fire sale, so a merger of some kind wouldn’t be a surprise but WHO?? We’re listening to any and all well-founded or crackpot theories.
Moss Adams has declined to comment on the rumor thus far and Grant Thornton did not return an email requesting comment.
UPDATE: This just in from a Grant Thornton tipster:
While I have no actual basis for substantiating this, we have a Moss Adams wireless signal in our office in the central region. There is no Moss Adams office in our building, or even out state, its been there since about January when the rumors first popped up. I just thought it was interesting. I have no insight into any of this, I’m just a lowly peon staff…
Perhaps there’s an explanation for this but I’m no expert on the wireless signals and whatnot so I’ll leave it to you to reason this out.
A new survey of more than 300 chief audit executives (CAEs) by Grant Thornton LLP finds that while nearly half believe that the shifting regulatory landscape poses the greatest threat to their company, a vast majority (88%) do not believe that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) should be repealed. Of those that believe SOX should be repealed, the cost of compliance is the main reason for doing so. “Since the passage of SOX, organizations have had to dedicate significant resources to comply with a host of new laws and regulations,” noted Warren Stippich, a Chicago-based partner and Grant Thornton’s national Governance, Risk and Compliance solution leader. “Based on discussions with various CAEs during the survey process, many believe that SOX brings a continued focus by management on financial and governance-related controls. However, CAEs believe that compliance audit processes are now well-defined and are currently exploring ways to contribute value creation to the organization well beyond compliance monitoring and reporting.” [GT]
This week we learned that Dixon Hughes and Goodman & Co. would be wedded in CPA firm bliss on March 1st. We’ve also seen a couple of smaller mergers announced this week in the tri-state area: Rosen Seymour Shapss Martin & Company LLP and Kahn, Hoffman & Hochman, LLP formed Kahn Hoffman & Hochman and Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC and ERE, LLP.
But e heard a rumor that trumps all of these:
The new rumor is that Grant Thornton and Moss Adams are merging. I have it on good authority (an industry consultant and the MP of a California firm).
Okay, so not exactly rock solid but intriguing enough for us to ask around. So far, Grant Thornton spokeswoman Kristi Grgeta has not returned our emails or voicemails and Moss Adams has declined to comment at this time. We’re poking around with other sources but still waiting to hear back.
So for now, let’s just go with the hypothetical. If GT and Moss were to combine, it would make them the 5th largest firm in the U.S., narrowly edging out McGladrey, with about $1.5 billion in revenues, going by Accounting Today’s most recent figures. Currently they are 6th (GT) and 11th (MA) on the AT100 list and 6th (MA) and 23rd (GT) on Vault’s flagship ranking. Their combined forces would have nearly 800 partners and over 7,100 total employees, if you assume no layoffs.
While all that might serve Stephen Chipman’s desire more dynamic clients (and perhaps more blogging fodder?), it would certainly require a few more hand-written notes. Not only that but GT already has a presence in every major market that Moss Adams does unless they’re looking to mine the Eugene, Oregon market for LOSERS and have reconsidered their divestment in Albuquerque. Also culturally, this seems like a strange fit as GT strikes us as pretty buttoned-down while Moss Adams is more laid back but maybe we’ve got that wrong. You tell us.
Regardless, Grant Thornton has voiced interest in merger possibilities and picked up Huron Consulting’s Disputes & Investigations practice last year, so who knows!? Both firms just closed the books on 2010 and maybe they’re laying some groundwork?
So, what do the GT and MA people make of this? Hell, anyone can chime in, we’re just finding this particular rumor pret-tay interesting. Some things make sense and some don’t, so we’ll leave it to you to hash out. And of course, if any of this sounds familiar because, you know, you heard something in a meeting about this very topic, email us. We’ll update you with anything we hear.
About a year ago at this time, we just started learning about Sue Sachdeva, the convicted embezzler extraordinaire of headphone cobbler Koss. It took a little less than a year for everything to get sorted out including quite the inventory of